THE JUDGE & THE CONVICT'S WOMAN
If Ming is a bad person I will not say anything for him. He is really nice to me and our children. I am a very dependent person and he helps me a great deal. I do not agree that he controls my thinking in life, but I will say without him we will lose our support in future. Ming was injured in an accident 12 years ago, so he is taking medicine often. In addition to that he was hitted by three men during LA violence rally four years ago. He always feels threatened and unsafe. That is why he purchased gun to protect himself but he never hurted anybody. He does not have any previous bad record. So one time mistake does not indicate that he is a bad person. I beg you, honorable judge for the reasons that he is a first-time lawbreaker and there are three children waiting for father's care. Please give Ming an opportunity to learn, give him the lowest possible sentence you can so that he can return home in the society earlier and do something meaningful and make up the mistake he made.
Dear honorable judge, the mercy that you granted for earlier returning home last time was so appreciated by me. I trust you that you are the kindest judge and will be just in decision making for Ming's case. You have said several times that a first-time lawbreaker is not a bad person you will not give him a harsh sentence so that he will have a second chance to learn. Therefore, I dare to beg for your mercy once more, please let our family get together sooner. Our present broken family has been always the heaviest punishment for Ming and everyone in our family.
The letter suggests Pifen Lo to be an intelligent woman with strong feelings about her sometime husband. It also reveals that she seems to have labored under the misimpression that Jin--and not the Judge--was the one who rejected the 11-year plea bargain. Her easy reference to her high level of dependence on Jin may suggest that condition, or possibly that she and Jin conceived the strategy to minimize her culpability and her potential prison term.
A much shorter letter from Jin's mother Chern Jin describes her son as a "kind person with a warm heart" who shows "willingness to help people." She writes of having returned to Taiwan and "borrowed a lot of money to hire attorneys" and that "[m]any of his friends caring about him loaned us money to fight the lawsuit and even came to court to audit during the three-week trial."
An August 13 letter from son Sean reveals yet another side of Jin's life.
Dear Honorable Judge Trammell:
Every day, we write letters to my daddy. He also write us back because we really love each other, miss each other and depend on each other.Attached to the letter are two report cards. One dated January 30 to March 31, 1995--labeled in handwriting "with daddy home"--shows straight As. The other, dated September 5 to November 3, 1995--labeled "without daddy"--shows all As and a B in humanity.
The letters from Pifen Lo, Sean Jin and Chern Jin all carry the purported Monrovia return address of Jin's mother. This address is on a street that doesn't exist on any street map of the area.
A letter from Lo's parents Tiung-fa Chiu and Suching-Mei Chiu calls Jin "a hotblood man" [sic] who "does his best to help other people because he is the eldest son in his family, he has to act like a big brother in his family and in his life as well. Although he has many friends but he is by no means a gang member.... Also he is very loyal to us. In our mind he is just a very nice son in law."
The several dozen other letters are from his brother, a former dealer-school student's husband, Jin's barber and a Buddhist relief organization member.
If Judge Trammell had consciously set out to use his power over Jin's future as bait for having his way with Pifen Lo, by September 18, 1996 he was well positioned to test his bait. From his chamber he called Lo at her mother-in-law's home where she and the children now lived. She wasn't home and he left a message for her to call back and left his number without identifying himself. Upon returning home Lo called the number on the message and discovered it was Trammell. He asked her to come alone to his courtroom at 12:30 and wait by the front door. Lo got a ride from a friend whom she asked to wait down on the first floor of the courthouse. Lo took the elevator to the third floor, arriving in front of Trammell's courtroom at 12:25. Ten minutes later Trammell opened the door to ask Lo into his chambers. Page 10